Another wrecked day

A collision sends a car smashing into a nearby family's garage. The result was familiar.

By S.I. ROSENBAUM, Times Staff Writer
Published December 6, 2007

VALRICO - Number of years the Wheelers have lived in their house at Brooker and S Valrico roads: 10.

Number of times a car has punched a hole in their garage wall: two.

Kathy Wheeler, 58, was watching TV Wednesday around 3:30 p.m. when she heard two cars collide at the intersection in front of her house. It sounded like an explosion, she said.

A 2006 Toyota had slammed into a 2007 Buick, sending the Buick into the Wheelers' garage, almost exactly where the first car had crashed into it back in 2001.

"It's becoming almost mundane," she said later.

Kathy's husband, Delynne, 61, hurried out to check on the passengers in the cars.

To his surprise he recognized them as his neighbors, Thomas and Mona Jean Maternick, 78 and 79. They were dazed, he said. Rescue workers took them to Tampa General Hospital with minor injuries.

The other driver, John Kober, 18, was not injured, Hillsborough County sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

The accident was under investigation, and no charges had been filed, she said.

Afterthe emergency vehicles left, the Wheelers surveyed the wreckage. The Buick had flattened their flagpole and taken out one of their wire Christmas deer.

"They hit Bambi," Kathy Wheeler said.

Further up the hill, the Summit View Subdivision sign had been smashed like the plastic foam it turned out to be made of. A street sign also lay crumpled on the ground.

And of course, there was the pile of concrete blocks that had once been their garage wall.

The Wheelers said they had already petitioned the County Commission to put in a four-way stop sign or a traffic light. The answer came back that there was not enough justification, she said.

Last time, insurance took care of the $50,000 expense of rebuilding their garage. Wheeler joked that it wasn't worth the effort.

"We should have built a door on each side and just let them go through," she said. "Just clear out of the way."

S.I. Rosenbaum can be reached at srosenbaum@sptimes.com or 813 661-2442.